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Elder Implied Accuser Was Too Ugly For Allegation To Be True; Tensions Rise In NFL, NBA Over Fate Of Unvaccinated Players; Vital Funds Not Making It To Renters As They Face Evictions. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 03, 2021 - 07:30   ET



ELIE MYSTAL, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION MAGAZINE (via Skype): Why would you stop? And the only reason why you would stop is if you didn't think you could get away with it. But the Supreme Court is saying you can get away with it. And so far, the White House, Congress has done nothing to stop you. So, YOLO.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So let's talk about that last point again because Congress -- look, Congress is not going to pass new laws on abortion, not with a 50-50 Senate. It's just -- it's just -- I don't think it's going to happen.

The question then becomes what can the White House do about it? And your point is not nothing. You think the White House can do something.

MYSTAL: Yes. I just -- I won't want to completely let Congress off the hook here, so I'll just remind people that abortion is broadly popular and the elected body of the government might want to think about doing something to protect a broadly popular policy like, I don't know, constitutional rights to privacy. So I don't want to completely let Congress off the hook but I agree with you it's broken and they won't. So that means I believe that Joe Biden and the White House has to act.

Now, as many people have figured out, Texas' law is quirky, and the quirk is it's kind of a depraved bounty system, which takes the enforcement power of their abortion ban away from the state.

So, like, Greg Abbot or Ken Paxton or whoever isn't out there enforcing the law -- and puts it in the hands of private citizens. Anybody living in the country can sue anybody in Texas for providing or aiding, or abetting abortion services, and if they win that lawsuit they get $10,000. But as a private civil action, that's the only enforcement mechanism for the Texas law.

Well, that can cut both ways. And if Democrats are willing to get creative about it and if Joe Biden is willing to do everything necessary to protect women in Texas -- well, guess who has qualified immunity from civil lawsuits? Federal employees.

So what Biden needs to do is, via executive order, create a federal force of doctors protected -- clothed in the protection of the state, which would protect them through qualified immunity from private civil actions.

Send them to Texas to counsel and protect women's privacy rights and if they want to provide some medical procedures in the course of protecting people's constitutional rights, they can do that as well.

Now, we have something called the Hyde Amendment. I would just -- again, when you say Congress can do nothing, let's point out that in the current budget reconciliation there's no reason to reauthorize the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment says that women cannot use -- the government cannot use money to pay for abortions.

So, a) Congress could just not reauthorize that. That's the thing. Hyde Amendment is reviled, at least on the left side of the aisle.

But even if Congress reauthorizes the Hyde Amendment, the workaround for that is that you have to make the abortions free. Abortions, I could argue, should already be free. They're extremely expensive and that hurts poor women, preventing them from accessing their rights. So you could make abortions free.

And you could privately fund the doctors. That's a trick that I learned from watching Republicans. What I learned from watching Republicans is that private funding to get around state regulation is a thing. We see it with private prisons all the time.

So absolutely, there is something that Joe Biden can do today, this morning, to protect women in Texas.

BERMAN: It is going to be something to watch, for sure. What is done is not done in how this plays over the next several weeks, several months until the Supreme Court decides to do more or less.

Elie Mystal, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you.

MYSTAL: Thank you so much for your time.

BERMAN: The country's largest state could be on the verge of kicking out its governor. Now, CNN is learning about a crass response to sexual harassment allegations from the leading Republican candidate.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And the looming war in the two major sports leagues over unvaccinated players.



BERMAN: About a week left to vote in California's recall election as voters decide whether to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

This morning, new revelations about the Republican frontrunner, Larry Elder. CNN's K-FILE unearthed audio from his radio show in 2011 in which Elder defends himself against a sexual harassment allegation by implying his accuser was too unattractive for him to have sexually harassed her -- listen.


LARRY ELDER, HOST, "THE LARRY ELDER SHOW", 2011: I've given you an example of when I've accused -- been accused of it two times. The first time -- and the other one I just now thought of the other day was about this woman who tried to break the contract not to compete and then accused me of hitting on her. That's how -- that's how she put it. If you had seen her, you would know that the picture would be a complete defense. I'm just saying.


BERMAN: Joining us now is CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston. Your reaction to that comment from Larry Elder?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): Well, I think, John, that it's the -- this has been a pattern of comments that we at the K-FILE has uncovered and that other news organizations have uncovered -- a pattern of boorish behavior by Larry Elder in the past and comments that have seemed very disparaging of women. And what that has done in this race is that it has really helped Gov. Newsom sort of crystalize the choice for Democratic voters going into this recall.

As you know, there was -- there were a lot of concerns about Democratic apathy earlier on that many Democrats were not going to return their ballots in this all-male election where 22 million ballots are now out to voters.


But what we are seeing in these early patterns of ballots returned is actually quite a high level of engagement among Democrats. And what my sources are telling me is that earlier in the summer, a lot of Democrats didn't feel like this was a real possibility that their governor would get recalled.

And as Newsom has been able to make this about the contrast between himself -- and he casts himself as a champion of women and girls -- and Larry Elder who has a history of these remarks and also is opposed to abortion and would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned -- that that has helped Newsom sort of argue that there are very big stakes in this election and the Democrats have to turn out. And right at this moment -- snapshot in time -- we are seeing a high level of engagement.

COLLINS: And, Maeve, when Joe Johns asked Larry Elder about these comments, he first said he didn't remember making them but then, if he did make them they were a joke. And he said -- and I'm quoting him -- "I have a great deal of respect for women. My mom was a woman. I had her on my show every Friday."

RESTON: Not sure that's -- that is going to mean anything to women who are concerned about this pattern of behavior. He -- several times this week in his -- when he's been asked about these kinds of comments, he has said that women have nothing to worry about in electing him. That he would be fair to both men and women.

But there is such a long pattern here that it is really, I think freaked out a lot of Democratic women voters. And obviously, as you know, we have a two-to-one advantage for Democrats in party registration here. So in order for Republicans to pull this off, they have got to have like supersized turnout to overcome that registration disadvantage. And as long as Democrats keep returning their ballots and if Newsom is using these comments to pump up that Democratic turnout, then things will look relatively safer for Democrats than they did earlier this summer, Kaitlan.

BERMAN: And we are seeing public polling now. There's a new poll from the Public Policy --


BERMAN: -- Institute in California that shows, what, 58 percent of likely voters plan to vote no on recalling Gov. Newsom. That's a big number. This is one of the biggest gaps we've seen in a long time there, which I imagine is something that the Newsom camp is thrilled with.

However, Maeve, you've been working your sources -- and you are really well-sourced in the political community in California -- and Democrats don't feel like they're completely out of the woods yet.

RESTON: Right, because remember last year, in 2020, we were talking all about the blue mirage or the red mirage where you potentially -- because we're seeing ballots come back in real time -- where you thought that things were looking great for Democrats because a lot of them were returning their ballots early. But obviously, there's a possibility here in California where you could see huge turnout among Republicans as they vote centers start to open in a couple of days and people can vote in person, or on Election Day.

And so, what -- I was talking to folks with the Newsom campaign yesterday. What they don't want is for, sort of, a sense of too much of a comfort level to set in here for Democrats because you very well could have that huge surge in Republican turnout at the end and that could lead to Gov. Newsom being recalled.

So it's kind of a -- they feel like it's still sort of a touch-and-go situation even if that PPIC poll has showed Newsom having a little bit more breathing room in this contest, John.

BERMAN: Yes, until the very end. Their biggest opponent isn't a candidate -- say, Larry Elder. Their biggest opponent is apathy and that's something they're going to be --

RESTON: That's right.

BERMAN: -- worried about until the last mail-in ballot is counted.

Maeve Reston, great to see you. Thank you so much.

RESTON: Great to see you, too. Thanks. COLLINS: As the scale of damage from Hurricane Ida is just really coming into focus, there are people on the ground right now who are already starting the rebuilding process.

A 2008 CNN Hero is addressing the damage, like mold, that could destroy homes even after they've been rebuilt.


LIZ MCCARTNEY, 2008 CNN HERO (on camera): Because of the timing of the tides, I think Ida pushed a lot of water into places that don't normally experience flooding that are outside of New Orleans but were really taken off guard.

Typically, you can go to the communities in the outlying area to access the resources to help people recover. With power out in Baton Rouge, it's become a much trickier situation. We have teams to assist with mucking and gutting and mold remediation.

What we've been able to do at SBP is help homeowners understand how they can buy the appropriate materials that actually kill mold spores, and then learn how to dry their house out so that when they do start to rebuild it their house doesn't have any mold in it and they can live safely in it.


I just want to say thank you to everybody who is supporting people who have been impacted by Hurricane Ida. The immediate response is really important. The long-term recovery is going to take more time and so we ask you to stick with it. Come on down and volunteer. Share your talents and help us make these communities even stronger in the future.


COLLINS: And if you'd like to learn more about the project's efforts, go to

President Biden is set to visit Louisiana today where that rebuilding is ongoing, and it's still where hundreds of thousands of people do not have power. Coming up, one doctor who is on the ground and warning about the unseen danger in the aftermath of these storms.

BERMAN: New York City recovering from historic flooding. We're getting new information on the rising death toll from the storm. Mayor Bill de Blasio will join us live.



COLLINS: A new survey led by the CDC says the majority of Americans, ages 16 and older, have some level of immunity against coronavirus, but that doesn't necessarily indicate that we have reached herd immunity that so many health officials and doctors have talked about. CNN has reporters across the country with the latest on the pandemic.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Atlanta.

A big question about where are we with regard to her immunity. It's a bit of an elusive target but we did get a little bit more information here that I want to share with you, giving you an idea of sort of how many people out there have some level of immunity.

You can see these two lines on this graph. One represents the vaccines, the other represents people who do get immunity from having been naturally infected. When you combine it, it's getting close to 80 percent of people have some degree of immunity.

The real test of herd immunity is not so much a particular number of immunized. But when you start to see cases actually drop, that's an indication that, in fact, we've gotten there.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER (on camera): I'm Matt Egan in New York.

Corporate America is just getting started with vaccine mandates. A new survey finds that over half of U.S. employers plan to impose vaccine requirements on workers. Those requirements range from requiring a vaccine to intercommon areas, like cafeterias, to requiring the entire workforce to get vaccinated.

In recent months, major companies, including Google, United Airlines, and Tyson Food, have announced plans to require at least part of their workforce to get vaccinated.

All of this underscores growing concern about the Delta variant and a desire to make employees feel safe about returning to offices.


Some NBA players for the Knicks, Nets, and Warriors could be limited to only playing road games this season. In a memo obtained by CNN, the NBA said that vaccine requirements at arenas in NBA cities will be enforced for players as well.

Right now, New York City and San Francisco will both have vaccine mandates in their arenas when the season begins in October. That means Knicks, Nets, and Warriors players can't play home games unless they are vaccinated or have an approved exemption. The policies do not impact players from visiting teams.


COLLINS: And I want to talk about the NBA's new vaccine policy with Stephanie Ready, a reporter and host for NBA T.V. and the "NBA ON TNT." Stephanie, good morning. And as it stands today, what is the status of vaccinations in the NBA?

What is this looking like -- this picture -- as we're getting up to the season?

STEPHANIE READY, REPORTER AND HOST, NBA TV AND "THE NBA ON TNT": (via Skype): Well, good morning to you, Kaitlan.

The NBA has always been kind of ahead of the ballgame if you will, from the very beginning when they shut down their league in March back when COVID started to explode. They are one of the most vaccinated professional leagues in terms of percentage of players.

But most recently, the NBA has laid down a mandate that all staff and personnel must be vaccinated, meaning coaches, trainers, any front office staff that comes into direct contact with players -- within 15 feet of NBA players -- must be fully vaccinated. So that's the first step.

The players -- as of July, when the NBA P.A. released their numbers, 90 percent of all of the players in the NBA were fully vaccinated. That was back in July. They have not released any numbers since then but it's safe to assume that number has climbed. Even if just incrementally, it says a lot about where this league is headed. They understand the importance of vaccination, especially in terms of wanting to continue to play games -- not having to postpone play or worse, cancel.

BERMAN: You know, one of the reasons the NBA has received a lot of attention on vaccinations is because the biggest star in the NBA, LeBron James, has been squirrely, frankly, on whether or not he has been vaccinated. He hasn't wanted to talk about it and has sort of dodged the issue. So that's why I think there's been a spotlight.

The flipside of that is, as you say, the really hard push from the NBA to require it and keep their employees -- not just the players -- healthy, and it's a business decision. I mean, yes, I'm sure there is some morality here in wanting just to keep people healthy for the goodness of their hearts, but it's business. They don't want to lose money.


READY: Absolutely, John. I mean, you remember when the NBA shut down, as did all other professional sports, it was a huge hit to the bottom line. You couldn't sell tickets anymore, even when games continued to play -- when they picked back up there were no fans in the stands. They gradually started to come back. We luckily saw right at the end of the playoffs the numbers started to uptick in terms of what local municipalities were allowing these venues to hold.

Now the NBA is hoping and expecting to have a full stand of fan attendance at their games. But to do that they have to try and keep everyone as safe as possible.

So I mentioned staff, coaches, and personnel around the team. I forgot to mention the NBA official. They will all also be fully vaccinated. I think that the new rules that we're seeing come into play in terms

of New York and San Francisco will be very interesting to navigate. The NBA has responded already, not necessarily to those regulations but in stating their own regulations and how they will treat vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

There will be two completely different paths in terms of what you are allowed to do. I think they're setting the tone early and it's going to be very challenging for players who are unvaccinated.

BERMAN: We're seeing that happen in football where players are on two different tracks completely.

Stephanie Ready, great to see you.

You know, incidentally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they are 100 percent vaccinated, in football. Tom Brady, who is a health nut, won't eat tomatoes but now clearly has been vaccinated, which shows you, I think, how safe they are.

COLLINS: Well, and I think everyone wants to be able to play. They don't want this to be threatened.

Alabama -- Nick Saban said everyone in the organization except one person, he believes, is vaccinated. That's pretty remarkable in a state where the vaccination rate is under 36 percent, I believe, still.

BERMAN: It is and I'm glad you brought it back to Alabama.


BERMAN: It shows -- it shows where your true interests area.

COLLINS: All -- everything with me comes back to Alabama at some point.

BERMAN: Millions of Americans behind on rent are still not getting the assistance they need quickly enough. State and local agencies have been struggling to find the bandwidth to distribute the funds in a timely manner. The slow rollout has desperate tenants facing an uncertain future.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now. And that was being nice. I mean, the money is just not getting out there, Vanessa.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and with no federal eviction moratorium in place, this emergency rental assistance is just so critical for people who are behind on their rent.

But we found that 90 percent of the $46 billion allotted for this program has not been spent since January. We also found that some places are having trouble getting this program up and running.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KRISTINA TOSCANO, FACING EVICTION: We're just like in limbo. We don't know what's going to happen.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): It's a race against time for Kristina Toscano. She's being evicted while desperately waiting for rental relief funds that would save her from that fate.

TOSCANO: I was up at seven in the morning putting in my application.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Toscano, a receptionist out of a job for over a year, applied to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program three months ago.

TOSCANO: It's just taking so long.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): New York State received $1.3 billion. So far, it's only paid out about $300 million. In fact, state and local governments have distributed just 11 percent of the $46 billion in federal funds.

DIANE YENTEL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL LOW INCOME HOUSING COALITION: The money is getting out much too slowly and it may not reach many of these families in time.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Camden County, New Jersey has $15 million for renters but it took six months to even begin accepting applications.

LOUIS CAPPELLI JR. (D), CAMDEN COUNTY COMMISIONER DIRECTOR: It is a long time. Unfortunately, it wasn't something we as a county were prepared to implement.

YURKEVICH (on camera): How much money have you guys been able to give out to residents, so far?

CAPPELLI: We will be distributing nearly $6 million come this Friday.

YURKEVICH (on camera): But, to date?

CAPPELLI: To date, zero, right.

YURKEVICH (on camera): To date, zero.

CAPPELLI: Yes. It's been -- you know, it's been a long process.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Without available staff, the county outsourced the work to a third-party processor. Thirty people are now reviewing applications.

CAPPELLI: It really has been a frustrating process because we would have liked to have these funds on the street a lot more quickly.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): New York and New Jersey are two of just six states and D.C. with some statewide eviction protections, but those expire in a few months. Pennsylvania, like most states, lost all eviction protections when the Supreme Court struck down the nationwide CDC moratorium late last month. GREG HELLER, SVP, PHILADELPHIA HOUSING DEVELOPING CORPORATION: Every day there is more pressure.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Philadelphia County has distributed nearly 79 percent of its rental relief. Last year, it started its own program, giving the county a leg up when the emergency funding became available this year.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Do you think you would be processing as quickly?

HELLER: It would have been a lot tougher. Definitely, the infrastructure that we had and the experience was invaluable. The challenge is just that we're running out of money very quickly.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): The county has received 53,000 applications.